The All Progressives Congress governors, on Friday, held a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari for almost two hours at his home town, Daura, Katsina State.
Although the governors did not disclose what transpired during the meeting, there were indications that issues relating to the 2019 general elections could have been discussed.
The Minister for Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, was also present at the meeting. Amaechi was reported to have been appointed as the Chairman of the Buhari 2019 presidential election campaign.
Amaechi and Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el Rufai arrived at President Buhari’s residence shortly after the arrival of the other governors.
The minister and the governor were also the first to leave the venue of the meeting. They left in the convoy of two buses that brought them from Katsina.
The governors at the meeting included Katsina Governor, Aminu Masari; his counterparts from Zamfara and Sokoto states, Abdulazeez Yari and Aminu Tambuwal.
Others were Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi); Jigawa(Baderu); Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano); Tanko Almakura (Nasarawa); Yahaya Bello (Kogi); Abdulfatahi Ahmed (Kwara) and Kashim Shettima (Borno).
Governors Abiola Ajimobi Godwin Obaseki and Rochas Okorocha of Oyo, Edo and Imo states were also in attendance.
The governors, who first converged on the Umoru Musa Yar Adua International Airport in Katsina, left for Daura by road in two buses provided by the Katsina State Government, a few minutes after 1 pm.
Sources said aside from visiting President Buhari to collectively condole with him for the recent death of two of his relatives, discussions on issues concerning 2019 were not being ruled out.
One of the sources said that the meeting would prepare grounds for the 2019 presidential campaign of the President.
But the News Agency of Nigeria reported that the Chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum, Okorocha, stated that the governors were in Daura to condole with Buhari over the death of two members of his extended family.
He was quoted as saying this while fielding questions from journalists after the meeting. He dismissed media reports that their mission to Daura was aimed at convincing the President to seek re-election in 2019.
He said the governors also used the opportunity to commend the president for appointing Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the APC chief mediator.
The president had last week appointed Tinubu to reconcile aggrieved members of the party.
Okorocha stated, “We have yet to discuss that (Buhari re-election). That would be in next meeting where we will discuss whether we want to support him to run or not.
“But for now, we came on the issue of the death of his two relatives and to commend him for the action taken on Tinubu as a conciliator,’’ he said.
Also speaking on the outcome of the meeting, Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa, noted that they were in Daura to also sympathise with the President over the involvement of his son, Yusuf, in a ghastly auto-accident.
He described the appointment of Tinubu as the APC chief mediator as a wonderful initiative by the President.
“After the condolences, we had some very intimate discussions that further bound our relationships and I believe this is a continuation of our closed association and support, loyalty and commitment to Mr. President’s cause and Nigeria’s cause,’’ he said.
Groups kick against his re-election
Meanwhile, two Middle Belt groups have kicked against Buhari contesting the 2019 presidential election.
The President, Middle Belt Youth Council, Emma Zopmal, said that there was nothing Buhari could offer.
He stated, “We all know the gross violations of extant laws that our legal system has suffered under President Buhari. His ambition to seek re-election will tamper with a lot of things in this country. He should just play the gentleman and go home.
The President of the National Council of Tiv Youths, Dr. John Akperashi, said that those calling on Buhari to run in 2019 are doing so for their selfish interests.
Akperashi stated this in an interview with Saturday PUNCH on Friday while commenting on a statement by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, that the President would contest the 2019 presidential election.
The NCTY said, “If you look at the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, of course, you would not expect him to say anything otherwise just as if you were equally in his position.”
According to him, for any person to clamour for Buhari’s return in 2019, such a person must basically first and foremost estimate his performance and delivery capacity based on his 2015 campaign promises.
He said, “Buhari’s administration is one that has failed woefully in the areas of security, protection of lives and property, and governance.
“For instance in all the communities, rural areas and states that the Fulani herdsmen have left their horror, the ugly memories still linger. The general phenomenon and accusations by the rural dwellers, whether you like it or not, is that because Buhari is a Fulani, his kinsmen are emboldened to unleash horror, invade ancestral homes and occupy same unchallenged.”
But the apex Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, called on other presidential aspirants to declare their interest like Buhari.
It said that the President had the right to go for another term in office, noting that it was up to Nigerians to vote for him if they were pleased with the way and manner he had been running the country.
Afenifere’s spokesperson, Yinka Odumakin, noted that the most important thing was the opening of the political space for the other aspirants to declare their intention and canvass for support.
He added, “The declaration that Buhari would run for a second term did not count much because he has the constitutional right to run for a second term. He has chosen to exercise that right and I don’t think Nigerians should dwell on that.
“If Nigerians like the way he has been running the country for the past three years, let them vote for him. The most important thing is that he has opened the political space. Let every aspirant come out and present their programmes to Nigerians.”
Asked if Buhari deserved a second term, the Afenifere’s spokesman stated that the organisation would assess the President’s performance and then declare its stand.
He said, “Our organisation would look at all that is going on in the country, we would look at what life has become today, fuel scarcity, and the insecurity in the country and see whether the President deserves a second term or not, in due time.”
“It is left for Nigerians to decide if they want him to continue running their lives this way. We want other aspirants to throw their hats in the ring so Nigerians can have a choice of who to vote for,” the group stated.